You have probably heard that adding flaxseed meal to your diet is beneficial for your health, and it is also good for your dog. Flaxseed meal for dogs contains fiber, nutrients, and fatty acids and can help to improve their coat and help with stiff joints. Ask your vet if your dog may benefit from the supplement and find out the proper dosage for your pup.
Benefits of flaxseed meal for dogs
Flaxseeds contain both omega-3 and omega-6. Omegas have many potential benefits and may help dogs with poor coat condition, skin problems, heart or kidney disease, and arthritis. The type of omega-3 in flaxseed is alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). ALA can be converted to two of the other types of omega-3s: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
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Unfortunately, a dog's body does not convert ALA effectively. This is one reason it is important to discuss supplements with your veterinarian. Depending on your dog's condition, your vet may recommend a fish oil supplement that contains DHA and EPA.
Another benefit of flaxseed is that it is rich in antioxidants called lignans. Lignans help to reduce inflammation and help to boost the immune system. Flaxseed meal is also a great source of both fiber and protein. Flaxseed oil supplements don't offer the benefit of fiber and protein.
Recommended flaxseed dosage
Always consult your veterinarian before adding any supplement to your pup's diet. Be sure to let your vet know what type of food and treats you are feeding your dog, as some brands and formulas may have flaxseed as one of the ingredients.
In general, small dogs can have about 1/2 teaspoon of flaxseed meal per day. Feed large dogs 1 to 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal per day. Simply mix the supplement with your dog's food. The seeds have a nutty flavor that your dog may enjoy.
If you purchased whole flaxseeds, wait to grind them until you are ready to give them to your dog. This reduces the chances that the oil in the seeds will go rancid. To keep the flaxseed meal or oil fresh, keep it in an airtight container in a dark location or in the refrigerator.
Potential problems and complications
While there are many benefits of flaxseed meal for dogs, there are also some dangers of which to be aware if your pup eats too much. Dogs may experience gastrointestinal upset due to the high amount of fiber. Flaxseed meal is already ground up but be aware that if you feed your dog whole flaxseeds, they will likely pass through your dog's system undigested.
While extremely rare, some dogs may suffer from flaxseed poisoning if they eat too much. Symptoms of poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, fatigue, and a rapid heart rate. If your dog gets into the flaxseed or shows symptoms of poisoning, contact your veterinarian right away.
This is because flaxseeds contain cyanogenic glycosides which are converted to cyanide when crushed or ground. This type of poisoning is less of a concern with flaxseed oil and whole flaxseeds. While this sounds quite concerning, your dog would need to eat a lot of flaxseed, about 10 grams of flaxseed for every 2.2 pounds of body weight, to get a lethal dose of cyanide.
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- Flax Council of Canada: Flaxseed: Nutrition Benefits For Dogs and Cats
- Nutraceutical Alliance: Ground Flaxseed – How Much Can We and Our Companion Animals Safely Eat?
- PetKeen: Can Dogs Eat Flaxseed? Is Flaxseed Safe for Dogs?
- VCA Hospitals: Flaxseed Oil